Lotus Elise information: everything you need to know if you own it, are thinking of buying one or just want to find out more about the sports car from Norfolk. Click on the links below for all of CAR magazine’s news, reviews, videos, scoops and spy photos of the Elise car range. We list the top 10 stories for each model – and where appropriate you can click on ‘More’ to browse even more of our archive.
The Elise family has over time included the roadster, the more focused Exige coupé, the slightly more comfortable Europa tourer and an even more extreme 2-Eleven track-day car. They’re all based on the same simple aluminium chassis and plastic body panels, and all the better for it. For more information on the Lotus Elise range, click on our further stories on the links below.
60sec road test
This is the car which made modern-day Lotus - a back-to-basics sports car in the best British tradition. Over time, engines have been sourced from Rover (the venerable K-series) but today the four-pots come from Toyota (the VVTi variable cam 1.6 and 1.8). This is a good thing; if you’re choosing an engine supplier, we’d recommend heading east to Japan, rather than Norfolk. They give great performance on the Elise, as all models weigh comfortably under a tonne (the lightest is less than 900kg). And this is at the heart of the roadster’s appeal. Light weight brings that familiar virtuous circle, where handling is sharper, ride better and performance stronger. Does any car do steering feel better than the unassisted Elise? We somehow doubt it. The wheel is alive in your palms, pulsing feedback through from the road to your hands, the car darting this way and that. It’s a marvellous driving experience and there are myriad versions to choose from, depending on your focus and needs. Just remember that this is a hand-built, low-volume English car; it does not do polish as well as, say, a Porsche Boxster and feels more low-rent inside. It’s the Elise’s only real failing - the controls, fascia and whole cockpit let the side down. But then this car is all about driving and we can forgive its rougher edges.
The one we’d buy
The one we’d avoid like the plague
Best enjoyed while cheap
Rivals to consider
Caterham Seven, Mazda MX-5, Porsche Boxster, Toyota GT86
One of the purest driving cars on sale today, reconnects you with driving
Low-rent cabin, uncertainty over Lotus’s future, fiddly pop-out canvas roof